For the majority of individuals approaching teen-hood, it’s probably fair to say marriage is part of their vision (with or without the 2.5 kids and house in the suburbs). I say majority, since most people are born straight, and in that overwhelming majority, most follow a fairly well-prescribed path into adulthood. There are of course those who eschew the common path and remain single or have multiple partners, simultaneously or serially, or who don’t believe in the institution of marriage and co-habit. Still and all, “most” folks eventually marry.
I knew way before teen-hood I wasn’t cut out for marriage. I didn’t really comprehend what lay beneath the reasons why, but I knew I didn’t fit the “typical” girl image (I hated dresses, dolls, and pincurls. I loved toy guns, dirt, and anything with –ball as a suffix, for starters). Add to that, the boys in my neighborhood were my best friends and my buddies, but I never imagined walking down the aisle with them. No. Not once. Since I could not see myself in my mother’s life, as much as I understood it fit her fine, I figured I’d be single.
Then puberty came along, and I discovered girls in a whole new way. And I changed my mind about the single part. When I understood the “why” and “who” of me, I wanted to get married—I wanted to fall in love and build a life with a woman. I still couldn’t find any pictures of what that life might look like – not in film or fiction – not for years. And of course, there was the small matter of not being able to get married anyhow.
Gradually romances featuring LGBTQ people appeared, many of which depicted the challenges and pain of coming out, searching for an identity, enduring the loss of family and friends, and “paying the price” for happiness. Still, happy endings did finally arrive.
Now everything is different. Queer kids can look to the future and see their lives unfold in any number of ways—single, monogamous, asexual, polyamorous, and of course, married. We can get married and we have laws to protect our jobs and programs to support queer kids and maybe even someday soon we won’t be considered to be headed straight to hell by most organized religions.
We can write romances in this “post-gay” world where being queer is a given and concentrate on other themes and issues – the same ones non-LGBTQ characters deal with. Simply put—we don’t need coming out stories any longer because coming out is no longer a big deal.
Does that sounds as ridiculous to everyone else as it does to me? All the authors out there who have never gotten an email thanking them for writing an affirming love story featuring queers, raise your hands. No one, right? Readers of all ages contact me exclaiming they’ve never read a lesbian romance before, and are so happy to see positive, passionate images of women in love. Sure, queer youth know a lot more about being queer than someone of the same age did, er—fifty years ago, but knowing and “coming out” to family, peers, co-workers, teachers, and on and on can still be frightening and painful. And there are plenty of queers in the world who still feel isolated, ostracized, and marginalized. Our fiction, in particular, our romances, create images of hope, victory, and promise that will continue to nourish our community for generations. Part of those stories need to be coming out stories, just as some need to be populated by heroes (gender inclusive) who just “happen to be queer”—because these are still our stories.
One Boldstroke Books eBook to three random commenters.
Radclyffe is an award-winning lesbian romance, romantic intrigue, and paranormal romantic fantasy author. She is one of the featured authors in the recent documentary film, Love Between the Covers, and is a frequent presenter/workshop facilitator at literary events world-wide. She is also the president of Bold Strokes Books, INC, a independent LGBTQ publisher.
About Against Doctor’s Orders
There’s been a Rivers at the helm of Argyle Community Hospital for six generations, and Harper Rivers is set to take her father’s place whenever he decides to hang up his shingle. Unfortunately, the board of directors has other ideas—they’ve accepted a buyout offer from a health care conglomerate with plans to close the hospital’s doors to the community that depends on it. And Presley Worth, a high-powered corporate financier, has come to town to oversee the closure. Funny thing is, no one asked Harper, and she has no intentions of following anyone’s orders but her own—no matter how beautiful, smart, or commanding the new boss might be.